Joe Scarborough isn’t the only television news host Sean Hannity went after on Monday.
During a conversation with White House advisor Sebastian Gorka on Hannity’s syndicated radio show Monday (which airs locally on 1210 WPHT), Hannity called Fox News colleague Shep Smith “anti-Trump.”
“I like Shep,” Hannity said, noting that the two are friends. “But he’s so anti-Trump. I mean, he went off on a rant last week.”
Later in his show, Hannity said he had no problem that he and Smith disagreed about Trump.
“Smith disagrees with me. And he does so vehemently,” Hannity said. “And the media was praising Shep and he’s not the biggest fan of Trump, fine!”
“Sometimes facts are displeasing. Journalists report them without fear or favor,” Smith said in a statement first reported by Mediaite.
Hannity seemed to be referencing a segment last week where Smith called out the White House for a level of deception he labeled “mind-boggling.”
Smith, speaking with Fox News colleague Chris Wallace, couldn’t contain his frustration at the administration’s apparent inability to come clean about a June 2016 meeting with a Kremlin-linked lawyer set up with the promise of Russian-backed dirt on Hillary Clinton.
Just Tuesday, the Washington Post revealed that Ike Kaveladze, an American-based employee of a Russian real estate company, was the mysterious eighth person in a room that included Trump Jr., ex-campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. The trio met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya after emails released by Trump Jr. indicated she had materials provided by the Russian government that would be politically harmful to Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Trump Jr. has claimed no information was given. But Rinat Akhmetshin, a former KGB counterintelligence unit agent and Soviet army veteran who also attended the meeting, told the Associated Press Veselnitskaya brought a plastic folder into the meeting with printed-out documents that detailed what she indicated was the flow of allegedly illicit funds to the Democrats and presented them to Trump Jr.
“If there’s nothing there, and that’s what they tell us, why all these lies? Why is it lie after lie after lie?” an angry Smith asked Wallace. “There are still people out there who believe we’re making it up, and one day they’re gonna realize we’re not, and look around and go, ‘Where are we? And why are we getting told all these lies?’ ”
“I don’t know what to say,” responded a dumbfounded Wallace, who called the meeting a clear attempt at collusion. “I think that there’s a lot of truth to everything that you’ve said.”
Hannity’s comments about Smith come as a growing divide is emerging at the popular news network. On one side, there are opinion hosts such as Hannity, Fox News Specialists host Eric Bolling, and The Five co-host (and Philadelphia native) Jesse Watters who have been outspoken defenders of Trump and his administration. Shows such as Fox & Friends, which President Trump watches and retweets on a daily basis, rarely features segments that paint the current administration in a negative light.
On the other side, news hosts such as Smith, Wallace, and Special Report host Bret Baier have often sided with the network’s more liberal commentators, like Juan Willians and Jehmu Green, in calling out the administration for what they see are basic problems with honestly and forthrightness, especially when it comes to meeting with foreign officials connected to Russia.
“This really shouldn’t be a matter of liberal versus conservative, pro-Trump versus anti-Trump,” Wallace said on Friday. “If you’re a fair-minded citizen, you should be concerned about the fact that we were repeatedly misled about what this meeting concerned.”
On Monday, Fox News legal analyst Judge Andrew Napolitano said he believes there’s currently enough information about the meeting to “commence a criminal investigation” into whether high-ranking members of the Trump campaign actively colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.
“It is a crime to receive something of value, when you’re a campaign official, from a foreign person or a foreign government,” Napolitano told America’s Newsroom host Shannon Bream. He also said it was “suspicious that the Trump administration tried to keep the meeting secret, and pointed out that Kushner didn’t mention it on his national security application.
“If he was trying to hide something, was it that this was a bumbling, foolish thing to do or that this was the beginning of some steps in furtherance of acquiring this information?” Napolitano said.